Complicating Race in the Study of Mental and Physical Health

Conference Highlights, Keynote Speakers, Panels and Plenary
Sociology of Mental Health

Dr. Patricia Louie, Professor of Sociology at The University of Washington

Racial disparities in health are large and persistent. While decades of research have clearly established race-based disparities in health, less attention has been paid to the way in which race is conceptualized and measured in the study of health disparities.

In this presentation, I draw on three empirical studies to demonstrate how thinking about race in more complex ways allow us to uncover new empirical realities. First, I consider the simultaneous effects of race and skin tone stratification in the patterning of mental and physical health. This study offers a new approach that better specifies the contribution of each status to health inequality, by providing a method that partitions the impact of race from skin tone in the same analysis. Second, I disaggregate combinations of mixed-race groups (i.e. Asian-White, Black-White, and Black-Asian) to better understand whether the social distribution of mental and physical health outcomes varies by specific combinations of mixed-race relative to monoracial groups. Finally, I consider the role of race and nativity in the health status of Black and White populations in Canada and the U.S. – two countries with distinct histories, migration patterns, and social welfare systems. This study uses a comparative perspective on race, nativity, and health to advance knowledge on whether there is heterogeneity in the health status of Black and White populations across nation states and how different social contexts influence the racial patterning of health.

Moderator: Jinette Comeau, King’s University College at Western University

Organizers: Marisa Young, McMaster University, Jinette Comeau, King's University College, Western University